Two coordinated bombings in Istanbul, Turkey killed 38 people and wounded 155 others yesterday. News reports report that the bombings were committed by a Turkey-based Kurdish militant group, identified in the New York Times as the Kurdistan Freedom Falcons, or TAK. Others said that the Kurdistan Workers' Party, the PKK, were behind the bombings. The TAK claimed responsibility for the attacks.
The first explosion was caused by a car bomb, a common terrorist method associated with other bombings in Turkey, near police special forces at the exit of a soccer stadium exit. The car was reportedly loaded with almost nine hundred pounds of explosives. Shortly thereafter, a suicide bomber triggered explosives in a nearby park.
Last week USA TODAY announced that three Carnival Corporation brands, Cunard, Holland America Line and P&O Cruises canceled all calls to Turkey for the upcoming year (2017).
Earlier this year, ISIS suicide bombers attacked the Ataturk airport in Istanbul with powerful devices that killed over 40 people and injured several hundred others. There have been at least nine serious terror attacks in Turkey dating over a year.
This last July, President Erdogad's declared a state of emergency following a failed military coup. Many people were concerned that tourists would be frightened to travel to Turkey following the harsh steps taken by President Erdogad against dissidents.
Royal Caribbean, Celebrity Cruises and Princess Cruises ended a number of stops in Turkey this year, primarily in Kusadasi, following the unrest in Turkey this summer. But a number of smaller lines, like Azamara, Silversea, Star Clippers, Celestyal Cruises and TUI called on some ports in Turkey.
Many American tourists have shied away from the eastern Mediterranean this year as a cruise destination because of an influx of refugees from Syria and the threat of Islamic terrorists.
The U.S. State Department previously ordered the departure of family members of employees in the U.S. Consulate General in Istanbul, Turkey. The State Department warns "U.S. citizens of increased threats from terrorist groups throughout Turkey. U.S. citizens should avoid travel to southeast Turkey and carefully consider the risks of travel to and throughout the country."
The U.K. travel advisory cautions travelers against "to within 10 km of the border with Syria and to the city of Diyarbakir," but states that "it’s generally safe to travel to Turkey, but you should take additional safety precautions." The U.K., whose diplomatic missions in Turkey continue to operate as normal, points out that "British nationals made over 2.4 million visits to Turkey in 2015."
On Friday, in an article titled Terrorist Suspect Arrested on Cruise Ship, a Cayman Islands newspaper reported that a German-Turkish man who was arrested on a cruise ship Thursday on an Interpol warrant appeared in court facing potential extradition to Turkey for alleged terrorist offenses. The report claimed that the cruise passenger was engaged in terrorist activities relating to the PKK/ACK Kurdish separatist groups over 25 years ago.
Photo credit: Murad Sezer / Reuters via NBC News (top); BJK Television (bottom).
December 15, 2016 Update: Why you may visit Albania, not Turkey, on some 2017 cruises.